Moving to Dubai

moving to dubai

It has been over a year or two since I have blogged about anything cake related. I have missed it immensely but have hardly had any time to spare a minute to sit down at my laptop to write reviews or showcase any of my recent works!
I have a number of cake pictures that I need to upload but right now I am in no rush! I just want to take it nice and eassssyyyyy.

So as you may have guessed from the title of this blog post; me and my family have moved to Dubai. As much as I would love to say it has been easy and stress free … it has been the complete opposite! You just make the silly assumption that everything will be on the internet, telling you step by step what to do and how to do it. oh no…. no no no no no… how naive I was!!! You’ll find it yes, but in drips and drabs, on this website or that website. We just needed it all on one page was it so hard to ask? Apparently so! Or perhaps I just wasn’t looking in the right places which was probably the case (as always!). However, considering my hubby had a look online and could not find simple steps on how to do things, I did think to myself perhaps I have looked.
We had to do most of the finding out for ourselves which was incredibly time consuming and quite tiring if I’m honest. BTW – when I say ‘we’, most of the time it means my husband hahaha!

For those of you who are hoping to get a job in Dubai and would like to know how to do it (if you don’t already). I will try and upload a step by step list of what we had to get done in order to get our jobs secured in Dubai and to migrate here. I know I will end up leaving things out because there genuinely was so many things that we had to get done. So if I do forget, please do excuse my forgetfulness and I will try to correct it when I get the chance ūüôā

Yes, this blogpost is not about cakes! I have had many people asking me to write this up so that they know in the future what the process is like and how to get through it all. Hopefully when I get the chance to do baking again I will start uploading some blogposts on here yay!

Please note that I will not be disclosing where me and my family work, or which school my children are attending, I hope you can respect this choice. I have put this disclaimer out on here because I know people will ask and there’s always this question in the back of people’s minds. “Ooooh wonder where they work, I wonder if they’ll tell us?”… You know how I know?…. Because I am one of these people hahaha!

In the meantime keep an eye out for my dubai blog posts as well as my cakes posts!

Dream Teaching Job Here We Come!

 

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Not joking, this skyline was taken on Snapchat haha! Check out the Burj Khalifa on the far left.

Wow, so how many months late is this blog post?!! (Only by more than half a year… the shame!)

This blog post is a quick one to give you the heads up on all the things you need to do after getting that dream job. I have put up a few websites that I highly recommend to help you get started.

  1. Websites
    First off, you need to make sure you are looking in all the right places when applying for that job. Being a teacher, I mainly used TES, Guardian Jobs, Search Associates, Teach Away, Eteach International, Leopard Fish, Seekteachers (excellent for the Government Ministry of Education Schools), and last but not least, I have to give a huge mention an agency that I joined whilst here in Dubai called Education 1st. They have a branch in the UK as well as in Dubai. I found them to be passionate, diligent, punctual, and there to help regardless as to what your questions and needs are. I never felt like I was a burden on them despite my hundreds of questions!Ok. So you’ve landed the job. Now for all the paperwork. The dreaded paperwork that confused both me and my husband. We searched the internet high and low looking for any information on what steps we needed to take. We literally had to figure it out ourselves and try and seek advice from anyone that was willing to help. Thank goodness for those blessed beings!

    uae attestation
    Here is an example of what you’d see usually at the back of an attested document with all the stamps and signatures.
  2. Attestation (Part 1) –¬†Solicitor¬†
    First things first. Getting your documents attested.
    Goodness, this is such a long process, I would highly recommend you getting your documents attested immediately upon receiving your job offer and contract.
    If I were to attempt to explain what attestation meant, then I would say it is how the UK and the country of travel verify your original documents to prove you are who you are, and that your education certificates are not forged. For more information check out the gov.uk website here.
    What documents will I need?
    – Original birth certificates (For your children – If Applicable)
    –¬†Degree certificates
    –¬†Marriage certificates (If applicable)
    – The right to practise in your field of work certificate. For me as a teacher, it was my PGCE certificate and my QTS certificate.
    – Latest DBS (or CRB as it was previously known)
    You will need to head to a solicitor who specialises in attestation for obvious reasons hah! They will check the validity of your documents and will stamp, sign, and date them. It is vital that upon receiving your attested document, that you check that it has been stamped, signed, and dated. Your documents will be sent back to you if they are not, which will cause so much headache and of course a delay because of a small mistake. which you could easily have avoided.
    In due course I will upload the details of the solicitor who attested our documents. He was prompt and extremely reasonable in his price which was a bonus. Most firms may charge you anything between £25 Р£100+ per document.
    Married? Make sure you get your marriage certificate attested as well. The UAE does not allow non married couples to cohabit so please do make sure that you are aware of this very important law!
    Children? You will also need to make sure that you get their birth certificate attested.
    I almost forgot! Please check that your name is written on all of your documents¬†EXACTLY¬†as it is written on your birth certificate. (There’s a long, funny, yet hugely stressful story relating to this. I’ll save it for another post!)
    If they do not match up, then there is a huge possibility that the UAE Government may reject your application. Yes, we are speaking from experience. Luckily we managed to get it all sorted in time and had our employer help us Alhamdulilah! 
  3. Attestation (Part 2) –¬†Foreign Commonwealth Office
    Once you have received all of your documents from the solicitor, you will need to send your documents via post to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (aka Legalisation Office) in Milton Keynes. This office basically helps to support and promote UK citizens and businesses to flourish in countries around the globe.
    Head over to this website here. You need to complete the online form and make sure you have input all details regarding each of your attested documents.
    It costs ¬£30 per document plus courier fees. I highly recommend you opt for the courier to return your documents! Personally, there is nothing worse than knowing all of your original documents are floating around from van to van knowing that there is the tiniest chance in a billion that I won’t get them back. But hey, that’s just me.
    If you ask my husband “What’s your wife like when she thinks she’s lost her passport or birth certificate?” I’m sure he’ll have plenty to say ūüôā
    A heads up, we had a photocopy of our birth certificates sent over. Wrong move. They need original documents for birth certificates. So if you are anything like me and fear losing original documents…¬†I would order a spare copy just for safe keeping from this¬†website.
    This process can take a few weeks depending on whether you have it posted during peak weeks. Ours took about 2 weeks.
  4. Attestation (Part 3) –¬†UAE Embassy
    You’ve made it to the last stretch! You need to take all of these very important attested documents to the UAE embassy. This is in London and I would highly recommend going as early as you can. The earlier you go, the quicker you can retrieve the final stamp of approval from them which can take a few hours.
    I went there during a weekday and arrived at roughly 1pm and got my documents and left by about 5pm I think.
    Before you head to the UAE embassy, make sure you head to the correct address. I don’t fully understand why but they have 2 offices. You need to head to the branch which is located at Prince’s Gate which is practically minutes away from the Science Museum. So at least you have something to do to kill a few hours whilst you wait for them to process the approval.
    The full address is: 30 Prince’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 1PT
    Telephone: 020 7581 1281
    There is a fee that needs to be paid and they take payment in their currency. I paid with a credit card so do double check how they accept payment as I cannot remember now.

    uae princes gate
    UAE Embassy at Prince’s Gate
  5. POST THEM!
    Woohooo!!! You’ve done it…. or so you think!
    Now you need to courier your precious documents to your employer overseas. You MUST MUST MUST do the following:
    – Obtain the correct postal address for your documents. Speak to the HR team or even the Principal’s. They are really active here in Dubai and are very eager to help.
    – Make sure to get a PO BOX number for them. (Just incase).
    – Use a reliable courier. We used DHL who were fantastic and had sent out our documents within 48 hours. We paid about ¬£40 for the service but it was well worth the money.dhlAfter this last step, you just need to take a step back and try to relax. Praying that it all goes through and that the Ministry in the UAE accepts it without any bumps in the road because trust me… we had loads!
  6. Other vital info:
    – Make sure to have at least 16-20 passport sized photos. You will need them for many things when you arrive in the UAE such as your UAE license, your UAE ID card, your work ID etc…

    РI cannot stress how important it is to  make sure you scan or even photocopy your documents. Some employers will accept photos of your documents from a mobile phone. But there are a lot that will not accept the documents. You will notice many of your official documents will have official watermarks, seales, and holograms on it or even all over it. If your document is genuine then it will become apparent when scanned or photocopied. A good example is your degree certificate.

    – Once you have scanned these all in (or photocopied), make sure to save them as a PDF file. I cannot even begin to tell you the number of time I was asked to resend an application or my official documents because it was not in a PDF format. Yes, that even goes for your passport photo too! Do it all, just don’t take the risk I say. It’s better to be safe than sorry trust me on this!

    Getting your attested documents translated into Arabic! A brand new law came into effect shortly after we arrived last year in August 2017 which stated that all attested documents must be translated in to Arabic. Luckily for us, the school that me and my husband worked in had our documents translated for us. Now, I am not sure if that is the case for all schools and if they will have the documents translated and signed for you so you need to find out this information prior to leaving the UK!

I know I have skipped a massively important blogpost on how to get a job here in the UAE, but hopefully in due course this will be posted! Last but not least I hope this helps those that need it as much as me and my husband needed it!

What was your experience coming over? How has your experience been so far? Is there any other information you would like to hear about?

Nel xXx

Peony Sugar Flower

 

Before I start, all rights reserved for the above picture of these amaaaazing peony sugar flowers were made by the amazing team over at The Cake Journal! I just had to make sure to post up some perfect example of semi open peonies. Click here to check out their other work.

Right, so I’m no expert on sugar flowers that’s something I know for sure! But I do love to use products which make life so much easier to make them.

I have used 2 peony cutters by two completely different brands:
1. Petal Craft Peony Cutter
2. Sunflower Sugar Art
I found that the Petal Craft Peony Cutter was more to my liking as it had the veining set already with it which meant I didn’t have to search high and low for the perfect veiner. I know I can do it using other veiners etc. But I like to use the ‘recommended’ product to get the best effect possible lol!

I purchased mine from a lady who was selling these on facebook as I needed it immediately the following day and she was the only person I could buy from who didn’t insist I spend XXX to get free delivery or next day delivery.

This can be purchased from around £24.99. I would recommend purchasing from Windsor Cake Craft as they are very reliable and you get free delivery for orders over £20!

Here is the peony I made with this cutter and veiner set.

 

Not perfect of course but I have to admit, for a first attempt it went pretty well. I made this whole peony within 2 hours. Would have been faster but as I was being extra cautious to make shape it how I want, it took longer. I decided to do a more open style peony as you can see.

I kept wondering why all peony tutorials called for at least 4 cutters when this set only had 3. That’s when I decided I just NEEDED to get another set haha! So off I went to purchase the lovely Sunflower Sugar Art Peony Cutter set (pictured below) which set me back ¬£19.00 from The Cake Decorating Company.

peony 1

This set did not come with any veiners so I ended up not using a veiner as I wanted to see how much of a difference it makes.

I used it on this wedding cake which was set up at The City Pavillion in Romford for a lavish ceremony for my beautiful bride Uma.

Handmade Peony Topper
Handmade Peony Topper

I dusted the centre with antique gold lustre dust and kept the peony rather closed as opposed to the first one I made using the Petal Craft Cutters.

Not a perfect sugar artist but am looking to have some more practice in my spare time as well as trying out some other peony cutters like the Claire Bowman ones which I have heard so much about! A steal at only £9.98 from The Cake Decorating Company!

All in all, my favourite is the Petal Craft Peony Cutters as I just found it more to my taste in how I wanted to make my peonies… large, elegant, and flamboyant! I know I can achieve this look with other cutters too but I just found it so much easier with this brand.

Have you tried these peony cutters? If you have which ones are your favourite and why? Or have you got any others you could recommend?

 

Naked Wedding Cakes

Vintage Naked Chocolate Wedding Cake

I remember the first time I heard someone mention those three words ‘naked wedding cake’. I couldn’t help but snigger at the thought of a cake looking naked because I had never seen one, or so I thought! It just sounded rather strange and obscure!

In the Spring of 2013, whilst looking through my Squires Wedding Cakes Magazine, the naked cakes on one page caught my eye and I just thought WOW I so need to try and make one of these. I love how natural they look with a touch of rustic depending on how the cake is decorated.

My first attempt was for my brother’s wife who came over with her family for the first time to my parent’s house and I really wanted to make something special but not too difficult. (Total underestimation alert!)

I had to use my gran’s oven which doesn’t distribute heat as well as my oven so the sponge came out pretty ermmm hard! Well harder than I am used to anyways as my parents loved it phewww!

To decorate, I filled it with fresh cream and strawberry conserve, decorated it with fresh berries and a dusting of icing sugar on top. Not bad for a first attempt, but could do with A LOT of improvements! Please do excuse the photography, these were all taken on my phone!

Very Berry Cake

After this day I had the opportunity to create a beautiful vintage¬†chocolate naked cake for an event held by my¬†sister in-law. Now of all the people I know, she has always been the person encouraging me to try new things, new concepts with cake design and to always be innovative. She has been one of the many people who is responsible for being the driving force for Nel’s Cake Boutique through support and her constantly opening new doors for me to try new things which is a cake maker’s dream!

So I showed a naked wedding cake picture to her which I got my inspiration from and that was it, she was on board from the get-go it was brilliant!

I will hopefully be doing a short step by step tutorial on how I made sure to keep my chocolate cakes moist and how I set up beforehand and at the venue to give you an idea of what methods I used. To make sure not to miss out make sure to follow me on the button on your bottom right hand corner ūüôā

As I was saying… To team this beautiful cake, I made miniature cupcakes dusted with sugarflair antique gold lustre dust¬†and placed them inside a vintage glass storage jar. Now, it’s no secret where I got these from but to add some suspense I’ll keep you guys waiting for a while before I do spill the beans ūüėČ
Vintage Jar Filled With Miniature Chocolate Muffins

Cupcakes were also made to meet the theme of the rustic/shabby chic theme with a scattering of pearl necklaces over the display.

6

Must admit, but of all the set-up’s that I have done, this one was probably my favourite as it all came together so perfectly and better than I had envisaged.

4                       3

Before I forget. Those vintage glass jars were from 99p store! Did you manage to get some when they were selling these Have you ever tried to do a naked wedding cake? How did you find the process? I would love to hear what you guys think so make sure to leave a comment below!

Nelepa Ullah
Nel’s Cake Boutique

The First of Many Cakes…

Having been gone from my blog for goodness knows how long, I thought I would start uploading my recent works which I have been doing over the last few months!

I had the privilege in making a wedding cake for two lovely friends who I met through university¬†whilst doing my Primary PGCE. Both extremely hard-working and dedicated individuals to their professions and I genuinely couldn’t be happier to see a more deserving couple!

They had decided on a rustic theme together with a touch of mint and had asked me to make them a cake which was covered in buttercream.

Having been shown a design that they liked I decided to give it a go using two colours, mint and cream.

Buttercream vintage Cake

As you can see, the buttercream has been worked with to create the rustic lines across the tiers. This was done using a small palette knife and simply swiping it across the tiers whilst the buttercream was still somewhat soft as I didn’t want to do it afterwards once the buttercream had hardened purely because the buttercream would crumble off and leave an untidy finish to the cake!

Have you ever made a cake similar to this? How did you find making it?

Finally back again

Very short post before I head to bed, but I feel the need to let you all know the reasons behind being away for such a long time!

Firstly, my laptop screen broke. I was too lazy to get it fixed as my laptop appeared to be on its last legs so I just left my precious black laptop lying around and I slowly became hooked to my iPad which I found great for wasting time seeing that the wordpress app was very limited on what I could do on it!

Finally got around to rebooting the laptop last week (which proved almost near to impossible arghhh!!) and then had the screen fixed. Waheyyyy I’m back and I’ve revamped this page and still not finished with it yet either ūüôā
All the same, I have done a few bits and pieces which I will upload slowly but surely for you to all see.

Goodnight my cakey friends xxx

Chocolate Ganache and turning your cake upside down!

Squires Magazine 2

 

I know… ganaching is a completely new concept to many people. But let me tell you something!… You will NOT regret it!
It is the best thing ever I promise you!
Not only that. Chocolate Ganache is a million times easier to work with¬†than buttercream when¬†crumbcoating! Why? I will tell you…

Buttercream:
First things first, it is lovely to work with (kinda), hardens in the fridge relatively quickly, and has a nice buttery taste although it can become rather sickly if eaten too much!

However, I have found that once you bring it to room temperature (and even if its still cold and hard) and try to cover it with fondant, it is a nightmare to work with if you end up smoothing the sides longer than you need to. I have done this on many occasions as I was trying to get a ‘sharp edge finish’!
I ended up ruining my cake and having to rip off the fondant to cover it again due to the buttercream oozing out from the layers of cake and the crumbcoating becoming too soft.

Ganache Crumbcoating:
I cannot tell you how in love I am with this stuff! First time around I got it completely wrong. This was a few months ago when I attempted to make a Great Gatsby themed cake. I didn’t let the ganache rest overnight to harden and that was my biggest mistake as you NEED to let it sit overnight for at least 12- 24 hours. Yup, its annoying having to wait that long but it allows the sugar crystals in the chocolate to crystallise which helps it to form the hard outer shell. In turn this makes it so much easier to cover in fondant as it is far less likely to melt or ooze if you’re working to get super¬†sharp edges.
Obviously, do NOT work too the fondant too much or else it will melt the chocolate underneath! But the thing is, you won’t even need to work too long with the fondant as the edges are so razor sharp from the chocolate ganache alone that it automatically helps to form a sharp edge on your fondant with some careful smoothing. By the way, I do highly recommend Bellissimo Flexi Smoothers to get the perfect edges which you can buy from here. You can also make your own and I will show you a tutorial on how to do that very soon!
Another positive is that the taste of the cake altogether is great as you have this wonderful chocolatey sensation as you bite into your cake. Chocolate is sweet, but not as overpoweringly sweet like buttercream is. It makes your cakes stand out a mile from the rest by far!

As I was saying, the main downside is the long waiting time but it just means you can ganache and leave it whilst you get on with your other work or decoration preparation!

I made this cake (pictured below) using ONLY chocolate ganache and did so by ganaching the cake UPSIDE DOWN! Woahhh! Yup, it was so scary but so worth it in the end as I doubt I could get that type of a finish on my first attempt using any other method!
It’s actually a lot simpler than you may think and it does also help you to get amazing sharp edges hence why it is now my chosen method of crumbcoating!
As you can see from my picture I didn’t cover the cake with fondant as it was a simple chocolate cake and I’m glad I didn’t cover it to be honest as it just looks stunning just as it is with the edible silver leaf!

Squires Magazine 1

Would you like to see a step-by step tutorial on how I ganached upside down? Have you ever made a cake using chocolate ganache and did so by using the upside down method?

Nel
XxX

Duffins bandwagon

Duffin Edit 7

Yup, that’s right, I’ve joined the duffin craze that’s been going around the Great British baking community!

The first time I heard of these strange little things were on a Facebook group that I am a part of called Cake Baking Chat. Now there’s a good 7,000+ of us on there and it’s a lovely place to find and meet new friends as I have done over the past few months. I just couldn’t believe it took me so long to find it!

During the times where the hubby is fast asleep snoring away together with the melody of my daughter’s snoring next to the kitchen, I’ll be up at silly hours of the night finishing off an order, there’s always someone on this brilliant Facebook Group to keep me going and provide somewhat of a presence if that makes any sense! I’ll be taking pictures and posting them up to ask if I need to change anything or add/takeaway something and there’s always a good handful of people offering me great tips and advice!

So like I was saying, I was on my Facebook App on my mobile when I just kept seeing posts about duffins coming up on my news feed.
I was sooooo confused. What on earth is a DUFFFFFINNN? Initially I thought the first few posts had made a spelling mistake. But 8 posts stating the word duffin surely can’t be wrong?

This called for some research. I discovered that these duffins were a cross-breed of a doughnut and a muffin. Makes sense. I also found out that the infamous Nigella Lawson first plated up this wondrous doughy goodie. Click here to see her recipe.
However, it was the Beas of Bloomsbury who brought the duffins to light. The Guardian even did an article on how Starbucks started selling them as duffins whereby Beas hadn’t copywritten their recipe and name. Anyway, if you’d like to visit one of their three beautiful tea rooms and order a said duffin you will need to pre-order these as they don’t sell them anymore. They sell two flavours, Nutella filled duffin and raspberry jam filled duffin. At ¬£2.70 each or 12 for ¬£30, I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting your money’s worth as they have been well recognised as one of the best tea places in the UK.

Duffin Edit 1

So, there I was, with all this duffin knowledge floating around in my brain, and then I decided to give it a go. I wish I hadn’t as I really didn’t do them justice ūüė¶
I clearly over baked them and I knew I should have gone with my gut instinct and baked at 180 degrees instead of the suggested 190, but no. I just had to follow the instructions exactly as it said. Which of course is always recommended but seeing as my bakes never turn out right when a cakey recipe instructs to be baked at 160 or 190 arghh!!

Duffin Edit 4

I baked them anyway and I made them especially for my hubby as he loves jam doughnuts, and like me he loves the conserve pictured above! I thought that seeing that he was poorly and hadn’t gone into work, I would be the domesticated wife and bake him some fresh duffins for breakfast with this delicious conserve YUM! Oh how he would love to bite into one of those soft delicious fluffy duffins once I made them. I couldn’t wait!
However, like I had said earlier, I baked at 190 degrees and i ended up over-baking. Most recipes call for them to be left in for 25 minutes but by about 15 minutes I could tell they looked perfect but I thought to myself “NO Nel, don’t take them out, it clearly cant be ready with 10 minutes still to go?” So I left them in until at 20 minutes, they started to look extra brown and a little overcooked smell was coming out the oven. You know, the one where it doesn’t smell burnt yet but almost there kinda smell? Yea, that smell.
They were as hard as rock and I even ‘trialled’ it’s rock-hardedness (if that’s even a word?) on my head haha. Yup, that sure was rock hard!

I let them cool and eagerly waited for the hubby to wake up.
I heard footsteps coming up the hallway into the living room. Excitement was brewing so fast I felt like I would burst with pride as soon as he walked through the door.
“I MADE YOU DUFFINS!!! EAT IT NOW!”
“But I need to wash my face first, I still feel ill!”
“These will make you feel better I promise”…. Really regret saying that now!
“Ok, but why do they look like that and hang on a sec what on earth are duffins?”
“They’re a ermmm a cross-breed of doughnut and muffin, they are unique and they look like that because they are special in their own right.”
Hubby looks at me with his eyebrows raised.

Duffin Edit 6

He eventually tried them and as I was fasting that day I couldn’t really try them but All I can say is that whilst he ate them he made no such effort to make them look tasty at all despite making all the effort to ‘dress them up’ as pictured above hahahaha!! Couldn’t help but laugh as I had a feeling they would not taste right seeing as the one I hit on my forehead almost left a bruise!
After all that, his response was:
“Nel, thank you for making these, the thought was really nice, BUT, and this is a big BUT… Please do not ever mix a doughnut and a muffin together. A doughnut is perfect just the way it is, don’t ruin it for me!!!”

When I opened my fast in the evening I tried it and they didn’t taste too bad to be honest. I liked them. But you must also remember that I hadn’t eaten the whole day! Anything will¬†taste nice when you’ve not eaten. Was a little dry but the jam inside helped bring in some moisture!

Duffin Edit 5

I will be trying these again but at my mum’s AND on a lower heat setting as I know if hubby sees me making these again he will be in complete shock and just confused lol!

Here’s the what you need to know:
Equipment
2 bowls. One for wet ingredients and one for dry.
Mixer/Hand Blender/Whisk/Fork
Sieve – For the Self Raising Flour
Muffin Tray
Muffin Cases (if you would like… I would highly recommend it!)

Ingredients:
Sunflower Oil
Vanilla
Self Raising Flour
Milk
Caster Sugar
Egg
Jam of any kind.

Melted butter
Caster Sugar
Icing sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius
  2. Mix the following ingredients together in one bowl:
    85ml Sunflower Oil
    1 large Egg
    125ml Milk
    Quarter Tsp Vanilla
  3. In your second bowl, mix the following:
    200g Self Raising Flour
    100g Caster Sugar
  4. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix until all has been incorporated.
  5. Place your muffin cases into your muffin tray and fill the cases with HALF of the mixture.
  6. Now place roughly half a tsp of jam into the centre of each of your muffin cases which are filled with duffin batter.
  7. Cover the jam with the left over batter. See Picture below…
  8. Place into oven for 25 minutes OR until risen and springy
  9. Leave to cool and then either dust them with icing sugar as I did, or melt some butter and dip the tops of each duffin into the butter and then into a small bowl of caster sugar to give a sugared doughnut effect!
Duffin Edit 3
You can see the delicious conserve oozing out here. So making sure to use a muffin case instead of plopping them in like I did, this is how they should look ūüôā

 

Remember to keep an eye on them as you don’t want to overcook them like I did!

Have you ever tried to make these duffins? How did they turn out? I would love to hear your duffin stories!

A complete and utter throwback

Bright, cheerful, and uniform cupcakes.
Bright, cheerful, and uniform cupcakes.

Recently I’ve been looking through many beautiful cake pictures on both Pinterest and Instagram. For some silly reason I could feel my insecurities surfacing. I couldn’t understand why… and then I realised when I asked myself “arghhhh why can’t I make flowers like they do? Why can’t I do stunning masterpieces like these amazing cake designers?”
I realised then and there that I was becoming very aware of the fact that I thought I couldn’t do these grand¬†cakes. But of course, such things are not impossible if we set our minds to it, it’s all a matter of setting your goals and taking the steps to achieve them.

After soothing these silly insecurities, I reminded myself of where I started. A bit of buttercream here, a few fanned strawberries plopped on there there and there, a little dusting of icing sugar and VOILA my masterpiece is finished. Always felt ecstatic and beamed with pride at how stunning I thought my finished piece was!
Now I can’t stop finding flaws in every single one¬†of my cakes.
I. Just. Want. Them. To. Be. PERFECT arghhhh!!! There’s no such thing as perfect I do know that yes, but I just want to achieve the best¬†finish for my customers.

My first "professional"  selection of cupcakes!
My first “professional” selection of cupcakes!

When you find yourself doing what I tend to do. Just take a step back, have a nap, go for a walk, play with your kids, eat the leftovers (lol!), watch some TV. Anything really, just something that will help to take your mind off it for a while. I happened to do this the other day when decorating but instead of doing any of the suggestions listed above, I started looking through my old photos on Facebook. My cupcakes and cakes were far from perfect but at the time I made them I was dead proud!… Bless, it’s quite cute actually considering some of my piping work looked like white cow pat as pictured above! That day I made so many different frostings, buttercreams, and sponge flavours in such a short space of time I just rushed with the piping work as we had to leave but I was bursting with excitement and was looking forward to showing them off! They were for family members and I can confirm that they were chuffed to bits upon receiving these!

Glitter sprinkled cupcakes
Glitter sprinkled cupcakes

Here, I was invited to do an exclusive stall at a Bollywood Night event in Cambridgeshire. I really don’t know what I was thinking when I decorated these to be honest but I just remember sitting at my mum’s and throwing the glitter on top then ‘neatly’ chucking a few silver dragees over!

My Mich Turner inspired miniature cakes
My Mich Turner inspired miniature cakes

The miniature cakes in the middle were inspired by Mich Turner and I remember looking in the book thinking, “WOW, these are so pretty and they look so easy to make!”. Boy was I in for a shock that weekend. After downing countless energy drinks, I was buzzing around the kitchen and dining room where I had laid out all my cake equipment like a lunatic… or so my mum said! Never again I told myself, never again! But I’m actually quite up for the challenge now that I know how to go about doing it and after doing so many¬†cakes I’m pretty sure I can get the ribbon to stay at the bottom and avoid the fondant cracking!

Vanilla sponge cake with fresh cream and strawberry jam filling. Covered in white chocolate buttercream and topped with fanned strawberries
Vanilla sponge cake with fresh cream and strawberry jam filling.
Covered in white chocolate buttercream and topped with fanned strawberries

Now this baby really was my baby as this was what I started off with when I first started baking.
The day my husband and his family came over to my parents house for the first time to bring forth their proposal, I baked this but not as neatly. It was this very cake that started¬†Nel’s Cake Boutique!
4.5″ tall and I used to sell this piece for ¬£15!!! I thought I was really rolling in the big bucks not realising I was making a huge loss as I never bothered to check my finances properly back then lol!
Unfortunately, I do not sell at this price any more (sorry guys!) and nor do I sell fresh cream cakes or use fresh cream to cover my cakes.

And now....
And now….

Can you see the difference?
Other than the photography as I’ve started to use a DSLR (no, I’m not a pro despite trying to ‘act’ like one when taking pictures!), but the difference in covering and the finish is much cleaner.

My first picture at the top of this post were some cupcakes made during the summer just gone.and I’m pretty sure you can see the difference in design and uniformity from my Bollywood Night cupcakes!

That being said, I will leave you on this note. I’ve been doing cakes for roughly 4 years now but I would say most of my time and effort has been invested in my cake making and decorating in the past 2 years even whilst doing my PGCE! It has taken a lot of hard work, love, dedication, time, support, perseverance, practice, and of course patience to get to where I am today! There’s still a VERY long way for me to go and I intend to keep learning new skills to make great things for you all!
On the days where you just want to throw in the towel… don’t! Don’t ever give up if it’s something you are really passionate about and remind yourself to keep reaching for your goals. Keep practising and you will automatically see that you are getting better!

Do you decorate cakes or do any other craft? Do you feel that you too have come a long way?

Nel xxx